This morning Teije will visit the Perama caves, but I do not want to see yet another cave and so I'm sitting on the balcony with the camera to photograph Grandma when she makes her daily walk. She always carries a blue plastic bag that she hangs on a stick in front of our balcony. After that she starts gathering wood and after a while she goes back up the road to the village with the branches and plastic bag.
Above the village is also the entrance to the caves where Teije has gone to. They are advertised as one of the most beautiful in the world but, according to Teije, they are beautiful, though not spectacular. He also had the misfortune that the guide hardly spoke English. The trip takes about an hour but no pictures were allowed. When he walks back he has a nice view over the lake of Ioannina.
We have bought a new camera this year, we had to after one drowned in the Corinthian Gulf last year. And this one has a very large optical zoom power that Teije wants to try: from a few hundred meters away he can make a reasonable picture of me on the balcony. I can never sit quietly unspied... I am especially glad that I have skipped this cave because it was a lot of walking.
And we do walk enough in Ioannina where we park along the lake and take one of the entrances into the Turkish citadel. The Turks conquered Ionannina in 1431 and until 1913 the city was part of the Ottoman Empire. In the 17th century the great citadel was built and after a revolt of a Christian bishop in 1611 only Muslims and Jews were allowed to live here and the Greek majority was banished to the suburbs. Two mosques have been built inside the citadel that can still be seen. This is the minaret of the Aslan Pasha mosque that was built on the site of a Greek church which was destroyed after the uprising of 1611. It is now used as a municipal ethnographic museum and has 3 departments, one for each of the communities (Greek, Ottoman and Jewish) who lived in Ioannina.
There are several museums within the citadel that is surrounded by thick walls but we only visit this one today. You can see all sorts of personal objects from historical figures from Ioannina and daily utensils. The castle has a relatively large surface and is nice to walk through and it is still easy to imagine how this used to be a lively center with artisans and trade. Today it is probably a lot quieter, despite a few groups of tourists.
Between the castle and the Pamvotida lake, which is also called the lake of Ioannina, there is a one-way street and a boulevard. We see a living statue, a phenomenon that you see more and more often in cities but that we know mainly from Barcelona. This is the Molos, the area where boats leave for the island in the lake. We walk to the Mavili square where are enough terraces to have a drink. It is noteworthy that there are mostly a lot of young people, Ioannina is a real university city.
Because we do not feel like walking through the city in this heat, we drive a bit further to the mountain town of Metsovo to the west of Ioannina. That is at 1160 meters altitude, just south of the Pindos national park and it is much more pleasant here. The town lay on one of the most important Ottoman caravan routes and was therefore quite prosperous. Now people live, among other things, from tourism, you can buy many local products that are still made according to traditional methods. But the bears also have their own statue. At least 450 bears seem to live in the Pindos Mountains.
From the city there is a grandiose view of the Egnatia Odos, the highway that runs from Igoumenitsa in the west all the way to the Turkish border and here spans a valley with a high bridge. The highway runs through a mountainous area and in most places tunnels have been drilled through the rocks, but here there is a gigantic bridge. We drove over the highway here, but via the north side of Lake Ionannina we go back to Perama on a mountain road that is fortunately very wide.
We eat at a restaurant in the neighborhood that our landlords recommended us, and get very tasty food there. And then we only have to enjoy the setting sun on our balcony. And yes, Grandpa gets along again with the tractor that he puts on the parking lot and then walks back to the village. We have been here 3 whole days and we have done and seen a lot. But enough remains for a next time.